Tuesday, September 28, 2004

How long a piece of string?

It has been said that my reviews are too long. Ok, I accept that criticism - my reviews ARE too long! However, since I've only really been writing for myself up until now, it can be forgiven (let's hope!!). Anyway, from here on in I'm going to assume that somebody out there - besides my increasingly gorgeous and amazingly-intelligent boyfriend Alan - is reading this, and write reviews of a more palpable nature!

Warning, though: All old reviews will still be bloody long, ok?

The Ladykillers

Director: Joel Coen
Starring: Tom Hanks, Irma P. Hall & Marlon Wayans
Screenplay: Joel & Ethan Coen.

The brothers Coen were once such Hollywood luminaries that, Midas-like, all they touched turned to gold, and each new release was welcomed and anticipated with certainty of it’s quality. Those days – and here I pause to wipe away a tear – are gone. With the horrific advent of ‘Intolerable Cruelty’, seeds that were sown with the less-than-laudable ‘The Man Who Wasn’t There’ flourished into utter tosh, and the Coens almost lost their infallible tag. Here, I’m afraid, the last nail is hammered home.

‘The Ladykillers’ never quite manages to claw itself up from its raucous stereotypes – a system that normally works (think ‘Fargo’ and ‘The Big Lebowski’), but here only serves to highlight the films inadequacies. Tom Hanks performs admirably and, at times, with the great comic fervour he so often attacks, but something is lacking in his hissing, wheezing, slimy Professor. Irma P. Hall, lady-stalwart, is merely a gabbling southern ‘momma’, reminiscent of Martin Laurence’s awful dress-ups, and even she cannot pull together the unravelling cords of the film. The ‘motley crew’ are comic relief – at best Marlon Wayans provides his ‘home-boy’ jiggling, and at worst Tzi Ma fluffs schtum-faced anger.

The premise – tunnelling underground to empty a casino vault – is well portrayed, with some fine comic turns from feline and canine alike (!). The intermittent moments of extensive dialogue, however, slow down the movie to a crawl, and allow an overall blandness to pervade the film, making it a bit of a struggle to stay awake and interested.

In the end, whether they kill the ‘old lady’ becomes incidental, as the wish for them all to die just so they stop pontificating becomes the prevailing feeling.

However, not to be all bad, the movie does provide some laugh-out-loud moments, which the cinema duly complied with, so I cannot quite write it off completely. My disappointment lies in the fact that I know the Coens can do better – with a remake of an originally unsatisfying movie, the least they could have done was improved on the original. Peter Sellers, I’m afraid, would turn in his grave!

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